the occasionally forgotten value of service-connecting

This “Brazil Missional Trek” has reminded me how much service can play a role in connecting us with our campuses and the people in them. If a tiny little young adult church like Zoe can get one of the world’s largest cities interested in its community, then certainly our measly little campuses might be attracted to a little love!

Often, we call this method Servant Evangelism, but plenty of us may find that label a little tricky. Or sticky. But even very practically, we all recognize that “Servant Evangelism” doesn’t nearly always result in conversion or witnessing. So is “Servant Evangelism” a demotivating term? Maybe. (But I can understand how setting forward that explicit hope can be motivational, too.)

Whatever we call it, our service here in São Paulo has had, as far as I can tell, two purposes:

  • Honestly “loving on” the residents of SP
  • and simply opening lines of communication with them.

And though the former is tough to measure, we have – without a doubt – seen the latter purpose fulfilled. (Honestly, there’s no reason we could have “expected” God to show us that fruit in a week – let alone 4 days. Happily, He has.)

So we’ve seen people meet us through Free Hugs, for instance, and then wind up at a mid-week gathering designed for spiritual dialogue. We’ve given out sandwiches at midnight that led to conversation at two-after-midnight. We’ve watched God open doors, just like we’re all hoping for in that “Servant Evangelism” thing! (I wrote some more specifics of how He’s done this in a Tuesday entry on our Planting Brazil blog, if you’re interested.)

I know this blog post is a far cry from the “Have you thought of THIS before?” posts that I sometimes write. But I think it’s helpful – at least I know it’s been helpful for me – to recall the value of Service Starting, or Service Door-Opening, or Service-Connecting. It’s been good for my soul to be vividly reminded of a College Ministry Classic that has

  • loved on college students
  • and opened up connections

for the last many decades.

So as we’re rummaging through our brains to ponder what methods might be worth initiating this year, I hope we’ll be willing to head to the attic. Perhaps we’ll need to push aside the mothballs… and if this method has been hiding up there, we should probably spray some bring-it-up-to-2010 Febreze. But I’m simply not sure we’re supposed to be so innovative that we leave this Classic behind.

This post was adapted (slightly) for use over at the Planting Brazil blog, too.

Update: Brazil Missional Trek

Tuesday, Day 5: Today I went with the team that daily visits the Law College of University of São Paulo. That site is probably one of the most “low-key,” and I believe we’re the first group to try to develop inroads there. Helpfully, I was able to come back and spend serious time blogging. (Feel free to check out the fruits – including lots of new pictures – at plantingbrazil.wordpress.com.)

I forgot to note that on Monday I visited Campus #1 (Mackenzie Presbyterian U); yesterday I saw #2, the Law College of University of São Paulo. (A few pics and a description can be found here.)

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